An event focusing on the unsolved murder of CBS journalist George Polk in Thessaloniki in 1948 was held at the European Parliament office in Athens on Friday.
Office director Leonidas Antonakopoulos said that “George Polk represents investigative journalism. He came to Greece to cover the civil war and ended up floating in the Thermaikos Gulf with a bullet in his head.” The Europarliament, he said, often recognizes the work of journalists through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
The government at the time tried leftist journalist Grigoris Staktopoulos and sentenced him to jail, where he died. Former minister Stelios Papathemelis, who was his defense counsel, described the jailed journalist’s case as “a tragedy without the final catharsis, which would only happen if Greek justice decides at some point to revisit the case. He was a simple journalist. This case is an open case, and an open wound. The defendant is dead, there is no material gain in this case. The only gain is for justice to restore its internal order, as he was a victim of a plot, including a judicial plot. The Greek justice can respond as to who didn’t kill Polk.”
The head of the European Commission representation in Athens, George Markopouliotis, said that “George Polk’s murder must not be forgotten. Acts like these weaken the foundations of a just society. Protecting journalists from political interests is more important than ever.” Respecting freedom of expression is incorporated in all political and development programs at the European Union, which is becoming stronger, more united and more democratic, he said.
The event was organised by the European Communication Institute, the Europarliament office in Athens, Greek Radio and Television, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency and the Association of European Journalists, with the support of the European Commission office in Athens. It was coordinated by journalist Tasos Telloglou.
The one-day meeting concludes all events celebrating this year’s World Press Freedom Day on May 3 by UNESCO. Its theme for 2018 was “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justic and the Rule of Law.”